SEPA today said that the fact that over 900 complaints had been lodged with them following the Easter flaring at the Mossmorran Fife Ethylene Plant has sent out a strong message.

The unprecedented number of complaints SEPA received during the period of the flaring is a clear message that the impacts on people’s lives is a major concern and they say that they have heard this message 'powerfully and clearly'.

A statement from SEPA issued this morning said: "On Sunday April 21 SEPA received complaints from members of the public about flaring from the Mossmorran Complex. The flaring continued until Saturday April 27.

"A formal regulatory investigation into April 2019 flaring is underway which will take time to complete. The nature of a live investigation means there is some information that cannot be provided as quickly as people would like.

"We appreciate this can be frustrating, but ask that you understand that gathering and protecting potential evidence is of the utmost importance.

"SEPA officers have already contacted some members of the public who contacted us to record the impacts this flaring had on them. Understanding the real impacts provided by local communities, families and individuals is vitally important and this work is ongoing.

"Following completion of the investigation SEPA will use its enforcement policy to decide what action should be taken. SEPA has a range of enforcement options including serving notices requiring specific action to be taken through to the submission of a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service recommending prosecution of an environmental offence".

SEPA today (May 17 2019) announced that further permit variations will be served on ExxonMobil Chemical Limited and Shell UK Limited to design a programme of monitoring to assess the impacts of flaring on the local community and the environment - including air quality, noise and vibration.

"We expect there to be a high level of community engagement in the development of the programme.

"The companies will be expected to consult widely to ensure: monitoring will provide the information required to carry out the necessary impact assessment; the most appropriate technology and contractors are used to develop public confidence.

"SEPA will scrutinise the proposed programme and make it publicly available. Providing it is suitably robust we will require the companies to implement it.

"The date by which these proposals must be submitted will be contained within the Variations".

As part of the Permit Variations served by SEPA in 2018, both ExxonMobil Chemical Limited and Shell UK Limited were required to complete BAT Assessments to consider the ways in which they can prevent, or where that is not practicable, reduce the impact of flaring. These were received by SEPA by the deadline and are available to view on the public register via ExxonMobil Chemical Limited BAT Assessment, Shell UK Limited BAT Assessment.

The statement added: "While SEPA has conducted an initial review of the BAT Assessments, these are technical documents and we need sufficient time to analyse them in depth. However, these assessments provide a significant opportunity and it is vital that both operators take this opportunity to deliver real changes.

"SEPA will require the operators to take action to ensure they are using Best Available Techniques and any flaring is undertaken without unacceptable impacts on the community".

SEPA is working with a number of public agency partners in relation to the regulation of the of the Mossmorran complex. They will continue to liaise with the Health and Safety Executive, Fife Council, Health Protection Scotland and NHS Fife to share whatever information we can to ensure the impacts are understood and the regulatory controls are appropriate and effective.

The Mossmorran and Braefoot Bay Independent Air Quality Monitoring Review Group will also continue to play a key role and SEPA recently carried out a three month programme of continuous air quality monitoring to provide information to this group and its members. Further details are available in our April 2019 monitoring report, published on the Mossmorran Hub.

They added: "On April 21 SEPA staff attended locations around Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly to witness the flaring and experience the impacts. This work happened throughout the flaring event.

Our air quality and noise monitoring team were deployed in the area with SEPA CEO, Terry A’Hearn on April 22. Further monitoring was carried out during the flaring event.

Information on the air quality monitoring SEPA carried out is available in April 2019 monitoring report published on our Mossmorran Hub.

"We will continue to develop our monitoring response in conjunction with Fife Council, NHS Fife and through engagement with the local community."